Borrowers in the UAE can now access their credit report and score via a new mobile app, the Al Etihad Credit Bureau said.
Marwan Lutfi, the chief executive of AECB, said the new online and mobile options were “a game changer” for the credit industry in the UAE.
“The app appeals to more than 4.5 million borrowers in the UAE," he said. “It is our duty it make it more convenient for everyone to access their reports and scores at any given time.”
The app allows customers to instantly download their credit report and score at rates that are 20 per cent cheaper than buying the report from a branch. Previously, consumers could only access their credit data by visiting one of the organisation's two branches.
The cost to purchase a credit report with the score via mobile costs Dh126 including VAT. The credit report only is Dh84 and the credit score only is Dh52.5.
Those buying over the counter would pay Dh150, Dh100 and Dh60, respectively, with VAT applied on top.
Since AECB opened four years ago, Mr Lutfi said demand for its services has skyrocketed. "When we started operations in 2014, we received 200 customers a month at our two locations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Today we receive over 200 customers a day and most of them are there because they want to know what is in their report,” he said.
Ambareen Musa, the founder and chief executive of price comparison website Souqalmal.com, said that AECB's new offering has "successfully taken the country's credit reporting framework one step closer to international standards", citing global credit reporting agencies Experian, Equifax and TransUnion that offer similar services to bank customers around the world.
"Self-monitoring of credit reports has indeed become a norm and necessity" Ms Musa said.
AECB opened in November 2014 to bring transparency to the lending industry by assembling a credit record of the nation’s financially active residents. It does this by harvesting credit data including loan, mortgage, credit card and phone bill payments.
AECB went on to launch credit scores for individuals – a three-digit number between 300 and 900 that represents a borrower’s creditworthiness - in April last year and began generating commercial credit scores in August last year.
The new AECB app, available for free from Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store, will authenticate individual identities via a one-time password delivered to the mobile number registered with their bank or through SmartPass, the single credential to access UAE government services.
Daniele Lavalle, the bureau’s head of product development and data operations, said verifying the person downloading a report was “a critical factor in the development of the app”.
“We authenticate the user through the information that banks submit to the AECB on a daily basis,” he said. "In this way we inherit all the authentication and verification process that the bank has already set up.”
The app also allows applicants to take action against any incorrect data listed in their report. Those who find incorrect data, such as an active credit card or loan, can email the lender directly from the app.
“These email addresses have been agreed between AECB and the banks so they are dedicated emails related to the credit bureau,” said Mr Lutfi.
Mr Lutfi said the accuracy of the credit bureau’s database was key.
“There is not one single data correction request that came into AECB that was unresolved,” he said. “Either side will always win. A year ago we had 2,000 data correction requests and none of them ended in dispute.”
Mr Lutfi said the average turnaround from banks to amend incorrect information is now six days as opposed to "months" in the past.
Today every bank and financial organistion is mandated by the Federal Law of Credit Information to submit credit data to AECB – a process which now happens daily, said Mr Lutfi, with the compliance rate 99.9 per cent.
Seventy-one financial and non-financial organisations are now registered with the Bureau, including the telcos du and Etisalat and Abu Dhabi’s utility provider Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Company. Ninety-five entities subscribe to AECB services, which enables them to enquire upon a robust database of 4.5 million borrowers.
This means it is more imperative than ever for residents to track the information stored in their credit report.
"Every loan and credit card application is now checked through the Bureau in the UAE," said Mr Lutfi, "A lot of people don't realise this until they get rejected. We need to reverse that. It’s important to us today that people know what they are getting into before applying for any sort of credit card, loan or other credit facility. We are looking for more credit awareness."